Everyday on the way to work I pass over several...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

Everyday on the way to work, I pass over several sets of train tracks. Normally, it's just a bumpy nuisance. But occasionally I find myself behind a driver who believes that vehicles must be slowed to a speed somewhat slower than a snail's pace before proceeding across the tracks. I don't take the tracks at 60 mph, but these track-crawlers are driving me crazy!! I drive a new 1994 Nissan Altima. Am I doing irreparable harm to my car if I continue to cruise across the tracks at more than a "normal" pace??

TOM: This is not the answer you wanted to hear, Deb. We discuss this very issue in our pamphlet "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Knowing It" (by the way, to get your copy, send $3 and a SASE to ....). And guess what? Driving fast over bumps is one of the ten ways!

RAY: When you drive fast over bumps, it's like taking a sledge hammer and whacking your tires as hard as you can. The problem is, it's not just the tires that suffer. That impact travels through the wheels, the suspension, the frame...and ultimately through the whole car. And after enough bumps, things loosen up and start to fall off. Look at my brother's car. The good news is his gas mileage improves every day, because every day, a few more parts fall off his car and lower the vehicle weight.

TOM: So if you want your car to last a long time, then you should slow to a snails pace when crossing railroad tracks, potholes or speed bumps. And if you want to drive fast over the tracks, Deborah, leasing is for you.

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